Two More Arrested in Navy Contracting Scandal
Two more people have been arrested in connection with the Seventh Fleet's expanding Glenn Defense Marine Asia corruption scandal. U.S. federal prosecutors say that Linda Raja, 43, and Neil Peterson, 38, once served as aides to "Fat Leonard" Leonard Glenn Francis, a port agent and ship services provider to the Navy in Southeast Asia.
The arrests bring the total number of individuals charged in the case to 16, the majority of them military personnel – including the only active duty U.S. Navy flag officer ever found guilty in a federal court, Rear Adm. Robert Gilbeau, who entered a plea in June.
Francis pled guilty last year to charges that he bribed naval officers in exchange for redirecting vessels to ports under his control, allowing him to overbill for services totalling to $35 million, prosecutors say. He is awaiting sentencing.
The two were arrested in Singapore and are awaiting extradition to the U.S. for trial. They are charged with making $5 million in fraudulent claims, plus the submittal of falsified price quotes from nonexistent companies. They face one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to defraud the government and multiple counts of false claims.
The ongoing criminal investigation of the contracting scandal is being conducted by NCIS, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the Defense Contract Audit Agency, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The case has prompted soul-searching within the upper ranks of the Navy. In May, chief of naval operations Adm. John Richardson convened a conference of 200 admirals and told them that "as senior leaders, our personal conduct, and the example it sets, are essential to our credibility."
"When we misstep, it is a shocking disappointment that brings into question trust and confidence. Some of these missteps are front page news, and rightly so," he said. "We cannot relegate this to our legal counselors. We need to help each other and hold each other accountable – this is leader business.”
However, Cmdr. Mike Misiewicz, the Seventh Fleet’s former deputy operations officer, said that Leonard’s corruption facilitated something of value. “For us to get a ship to a port, Leonard did our dirty work. That’s the best way, and most blunt way that you could describe that happening,” Misiewicz told Defense News. “Yeah, he was a crook, but he was our crook.”
Misiewicz pled guilty to bribery and conspiracy charges in January.